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Furious Bolsonaro denies links to Brazil politician's murder

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Brasília (AFP)

President Jair Bolsonaro angrily denied links to last year's assassination of a prominent Brazilian politician on Wednesday, after reports that a suspect in the murder investigation visited his residence before the killing.

Marielle Franco, a popular leftist city councillor in Rio de Janeiro, was gunned down alongside her driver in March 2018 -- a drive-by shooting that investigators described as a "summary execution."

One of the two suspects in the murder apparently published a photograph of himself alongside Bolsonaro on his Facebook account, since deleted.

Meanwhile the other lived in the same Rio de Janeiro residential complex as the president -- links that the Brazilian police have dismissed as a "coincidence."

On Tuesday night, TV network Globo reported that the first suspect visited the condominium building where Bolsonaro lived, telling the doorman he intended to visit the then-presidential candidate.

The doorman then watched the man instead visit the home of the second suspect, the broadcaster's Jornal Nacional program reported, citing a leak from the police investigation.

Bolsonaro hit back forcefully at the report during a 24-minute live broadcast on YouTube early Wednesday from Saudi Arabia, where he is currently on a diplomatic tour.

"I have no reason to kill anyone in Rio de Janeiro," the president said, appearing agitated and at times shouting through the recording, and accusing Il Globo of "rotten and unscrupulous journalism".

The tough-talking Bolsonaro frequently lambasts opponents or critics in Brazil and abroad -- including political leaders, activists and media outlets -- sometimes resorting to vulgar rhetoric to insult them.

Since taking power in January, Bolsonaro has been the target of massive nationwide demonstrations over his policies ranging from education budget cuts to a loosening of gun laws.

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